Lucknow: Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and VHP vice president Champat Rai were anointed as Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Khestra Trust's president and general secretary on Wednesday.
With the move, the saints and seers of Ayodhya finally have heaved a sigh of relief. A euphoria could be felt in the temple town on Wednesday evening after the announcement at the first meeting of the trust in New Delhi.
There has been discontent among the seers over Das not being included in the board of trustees. The VHP leadership were also taken by surprise over its non-representation in the trust announced by the government on February 5.
Initially, the 15-member trust did not have a single saint from Ayodhya. Only Raja Bimalendra Mohan Pratap Mishra of Ayodhya royal family and Dr Anil Mishra, who is believed to be associated with the RSS, were nominated to it.
However, the importance of the presence of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Champat Rai in the trust to facilitate temple construction could not be overlooked by the Centre as the Union Home Minister had to intervene and pacify the enraged seers.
The presence of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in Trust was important as he is a prominent and revered figure in Ayodhya. The pithadhishwar of Ayodhya's largest temple, Mani Ram Das Ki Chavani, and the chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Mahant has played a very crucial role in spearheading the temple movement and taking it this long.
“Mahant Nritya Gopal Das is an ideal for all of us. The Ram temple (in Ayodhya) will be constructed under his leadership. The campaign (for constructing Ram temple) has reached this point under his leadership,” says Mahant Satyendra Das, head priest of the makeshift temple.
Both Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Champat Rai have been very well-versed with the demography of the area and have kept the temple work on by running the workshop, ensuring transpiration of stone slabs, carving and engraving after the demolition of the disputed structure.
In fact, Nritya Gopal Das is credited with building many temples -- Ramayan Bhavan, the Shri Rangnath temple and the Shri Char Dham temple-- in Ayodhya.
In 2001, unidentified assailants hurled country-made bombs at him and his disciples, as they were returning from the Sarayu river after their morning bath. He survived with minor injuries. Since then, he is guarded by two policemen.
In 2003, he took over the Nyas after Ramchandra Paramhans's death.
Similarly, the representation of VHP, which played a critical role in the Ram Mandir movement in the 1980s and 1990s is also deemed to be very important. It was VHP under Ashok Singhal that took the Ram Janmabhoomi issue out of Ayodhya and created a pan-India movement.
The organisation also played a key role in proposing and popularising the model for the Ram Temple.
The Centre’s decision not to nominate Nritya Gopal Das as a member of Board of Trustees of the new Trust was not without reason.
In the wake of criminal proceedings underway against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Champat Rai at the special CBI court in Lucknow in connection with the demolition of Babri Masjid, had the Centre appointed them as members of Board of Trustees of the new Trust, there was the possibility of anyone challenging the Trust in the Supreme Court.
The only way out was that the Board of Trustees used the power to nominate two more members of the Trust.
The Ram Janmabhoomi Nya - A trust formed by the Vishva Hindu Parishad in January 1993 soon after the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, to promote and oversee the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple.